Friday, March 8, 2013

Ready for spring adventures?

NOTE: Spring has sprung since I wrote this ... this week there was an agreement by trees in my 'hood to sprout pink and white blooms. Weather's spring screwy--high 70s to low 50s this week, but mucho better than poor winter ridden East Coast. By S. Derrickson Moore LAS CRUCES — Climate change seems to be running through its greatest hits list lately and inspiring trips down memory lanes scattered around the globe. A recent 24-hour period included an enthusiastic rainstorm, early morning fog and predictions of a Haboob-level dust storm with winds gusting to 65 mph. I drove home through a rain that seemed a cross between our August monsoons and the gentle, but persistent and ubiquitous, winter drizzle of the Pacific Northwest. Something natural in a rainforest, but strangely foreign in pre-spring barren high desert country. Early the next morning, I awoke to fluffy, isolated pockets of fog snuggling in valley nichos around my ‘hood, with more expansive misty clouds swaddling our mountain peaks. I thought of many, many Oregon early drives over mountain passes this time of year, descending from snow and drizzle to rain and fog, and the first signs of spring: giant trilliums, creamy white Mt. Hood daffodils. Despite all the warm winter days in the high 60s and 70s, spring seems later than usual this year. The roller coaster temperature rides, the snow and bitter cold that lingered in January and freezes that keep popping up before and after full-tilt sunny days … Leaves and buds and birds seem as confused as our bi-polar weather. And punching sporadically, like a vengeful cosmic broom that punishes rather than sweeps clean, come the sandstorms. People used to ask me when they could come visit at a time when they could pretty much be guaranteed to avoid the sandstorms. “Never,” I quipped, but these days, I’m not kidding. I’ve talked to natives, including old-timers who remember the Dust Bowl days, and there seems to be a consensus that the storms used to be worst during seasonal changes, mostly in the fall and spring. But all bets are off during climate change extremes. The worst sandstorm I’ve endured came a week before last Christmas, when a white-knuckle ride to the El Paso Airport put me in mind of Midwestern tornados and South Florida hurricanes (yes, the big ones). For miles, my car was pelted by tumbleweeds the size of golf carts and visibility, at times, faded to nothing and closed highways to the west of us for several hours. My Arizona amigos tell me our mega dust-ups are nothing in comparison to their Haboobs. If so, I never want to find out. And I’d just as soon skip any more experiences with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Intriguing though it was to watch online, I’d also like to avoid giant meteorite fly-bys; our test-flight sonic booms are more than enough. And speaking of things we CAN influence, I hope 2013 is a year in which we all look more closely at what we’re doing to our planet and resolve to take better care. As I’d expected, the world didn’t end in 2012, but neither did our issues with the environment and climate change. In late February, I was still waiting for the tardy pink blossoms to festoon my neighborhood trees, for the weeping willows that are my personal seasonal harbinger to send neon green streamers to glow against electric blue skies. I look for the promising little flowers to make their appearance in the orchards of friends, and then think the shy ones may know what they’re doing. They bide their time and fight to set their future fruits, by waiting until the destructive windstorm season passes, if it ever does. And on clear days, I turn my face to the sun, and wait for the reliable cactus blooms and wonder if it will be one of those rare desert springs that finally bring greater-than-usual rains — and floods. But also emerald green patches on our beige plains, and carpets of wildflowers and plants that we see only rarely. It’s time for seasonal adventures that come every year, but are never quite the same. Spring is always full of mysteries and milagros, especially in our fragile but stubbornly vital territory. S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450. Follow her on Twitter @DerricksonMoore.

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